Robert Covington: If You Don't Know, Now You Know
On November 22, a week after signing with the Sixers, Robert Covington put together a breakout performance in front of a sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden, scoring 14 points in just 14 minutes and going 4-for-4 from deep against the Knicks. You can bet that the vast majority of the nearly 20,000 fans in attendance had no idea who the 6’9” forward out of Tennessee State was. Heck, even Carmelo Anthony said after the game that he didn’t know who Covington was, asking an assistant coach during a timeout whether or not the 24-year-old could shoot.
Anthony and the rest of the basketball world figured out quickly that he can.
Over his last 10 games, the reigning D-League Rookie of the Year has led the Sixers in scoring, averaging 17.0 points and converting a scorching 42.9% of the 70 threes he’s attempted since December 3. During that stretch, he’s tied with Portland’s Damian Lillard and Kyle Korver for the most threes made in the NBA, at 30.
After spending almost the entirety of last season with the Houston Rockets’ D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, he’s relished the opportunity with the Sixers to prove that he has what it takes to make it at the highest level.
“With it being a new transition from the D-League to the NBA, [a lot of people] didn’t think I would [be successful] on this level,” he said. “I always knew that I’d be in a position to be in the NBA one day, because I knew how my work ethic is, and everything I’ve been through I use as motivation to be who I am today.”
His strong individual play has translated to success for the Sixers, who are 4-6 in their last 10 games after beginning the year 0-17. During that span, the Sixers’ offense has risen from 92.1 points per 100 possessions to 96.6 during the 32.0 minutes per game that he’s on the floor.
“Playing with these guys, it’s been a great transition,” he said. “We’ve gotten better as a team, I’ve gotten better, other guys have stepped up and done things they didn’t know they were capable of doing. So it’s all been a trickle down effect.
Covington isn’t much of a video game player, but when Sixers fans discovered last week that his three-point rating in NBA2k15 was an appalling 49 out or 99, he heard about it on Twitter.
It’s not uncommon for the game to take a “wait and see” approach with younger, less experience players, even those with a proven track record in one area, like Covington with his three-point shooting. But 49, on par with most jump shot-averse big men, seemed excessively low.
The developers of the game obviously agreed, bumping him all the way up to 87 in that category this week, a mark that slots him amongst the top perimeter shooters in the game.
“I saw before that it was 40-something and saw someone comment [on Twitter] like, ‘Really?’ But I guess it changed,” he said, laughing. “It’s a blessing [having people] give recognition, even in a video game.”